Communities in Zaka, Makoni and Mbire have resolved to uphold peace despite rising political temperatures. This came out during a series of neutral collaborative platforms (nhimbes) held from 17-21 May 2017 in Zaka, Makoni and Mbire. The nhimbes included clean up campaigns, harvesting of crops and gulley filling exercises. The nhimbes were aimed at raising public awareness on the need for peace and tolerance ahead of the 2018 elections. The nhimbes were organized by 15 community peace clubs in Makoni (5 peace clubs), Mbire (5 peace clubs), and Zaka (5 peace clubs).
The nhimbes were attended by a total of 26 Village heads, 3 Headmen, 2 Councillors, 10 Village Health Workers and 20 Village Development Committee (VIDCO) members and 600 community members. Some of the issues that came out from the discussions during the nhimbes include the issue of forced attendance to political gatherings and continued intimidation of community members. Youths who attended the collaborative platforms also raised their disgruntlement on the invisible hand of political party leaders who entice youths through tokens to engage in violent activities furthering their own selfish ends. Upon reflection, all the young people who attended the nhimbes vowed to promote peace despite the interference of political parties and the rising political tensions ahead of the 2018 elections. Community members also underscored the need to organize sports for peace tournaments since they have potential of uniting youths from across the political divide. As a way forward, community members vowed to continue spreading the message of peace and initiate activities that promote peace, tolerance and social cohesion.
The nhimbes were conducted at a time Heal Zimbabwe is harvesting community views on coming up with peace messages that raise public awareness on the need for peaceful participation in the upcoming 2018 elections. The messages will be part of a broad National Peace Campaign to be launched by Heal Zimbabwe Peace structures in June 2017.
A Peace Club is a ward based community group of 20 people who come together to promote peaceful coexistence in their communities. Peace club membership is drawn from diverse local community members that include traditional leaders, church leaders, women, youth, business people, people with disabilities and village health workers.